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SF seeks to expedite police reform with new contract proposal

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San Francisco Police Officers Association panel member Gary Delagnes questions Police Chief Bill Scott during an arbitration hearing at the Hall of Justice on Tuesday, April 17, 2018. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

New details released in ongoing negotiations between San Francisco and the police union reveal that city officials are attempting to speed up police reform with a contract proposal that also includes salary increases for officers.

The Department of Human Resources has proposed a 9 percent wage hike for officers over the next three years, while the San Francisco Police Officers Association has responded with a proposed 13 percent boost over the same years. At an annual $4.08 million per one percent increase, either proposal will cost The City tens of millions in funding in the coming years.

The City has also proposed shortening the negotiation process the SFPOA can invoke after the Police Commission passes a policy related to the 272 recommendations for reform from the U.S. Department of Justice. The union has not rejected or countered that proposal, according to public records.

“The fact that The City put it on the table is a huge victory,” said Anand Subramanian, one of the activists calling on San Francisco to use the contract negotiations as leverage to ensure police reform. “An actual victory will not be until this term is on the contract and until impactful reforms are actually passed.”

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With just a couple months to spare before the current 10-year contract expires at the end of June, negotiations have stalled between The City and the SFPOA. The two sides have failed to reach an agreement since talks began late last year, resulting in arbitration hearings beginning this week at the Hall of Justice.

“In 28 years, I’ve never been involved in a negotiation with The City where I never saw in four months the director of human resources, the chief of police, the mayor or the mayor’s chief of staff,” Gary Delagnes, a consultant and former president for the SFPOA testified Tuesday at an arbitration hearing. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

In recent months, Mayor Mark Farrell and his Department of Human Resources have faced public pressure over the negotiations. A coalition of police reformers called the No Justice, No Deal Campaign has voiced concerns about Farrell’s ties to the union — with whom he shared an advisor until recently — and urged the SFPOA to support police reforms as a condition of the new contract.

The SFPOA has been criticized for delaying reforms in the San Francisco Police Department by invoking the union’s rights to meet and confer — or negotiate — with city officials when a policy change impacts working conditions.

It took the Police Commission months to pass a body-worn camera policy in June 2016 after meeting and conferring with the union on the issue, and discussions continue with the union over changes to the policy made earlier this year.

The District Attorney’s Office has also yet to take the lead on the investigations of police shootings in The City because of ongoing discussions with the union, despite plans and funding falling into place in September 2016.

In December 2016, the SFPOA filed a lawsuit after failing to reach a settlement with The City during negotiations over a new use-of-force policy for police that restricted officers from using the carotid hold and shooting at moving cars.

Under The City’s contract proposal, the SFPOA would agree to shorten the negotiation process by requesting a meet and confer within 14 days of a policy change related to the DOJ reforms, as well as waiving its right to impasse procedures if no agreement is reached in the process.

“The intent of [the proposal] is to expedite the process so we can get the reforms implemented,” SFPD Chief Bill Scott testified Tuesday at the arbitration hearing.

However, upon questioning by attorney Gregg Adam for the police union, Scott also said he did not believe the SFPOA had blocked reform efforts through the meet and confer process.

“I’m not here to say the POA is impeding implementation, but whatever we can do here to speed things up, that’s the intent,” Scott said.

However LaWanna Preston of the Department of Human Resources, who has represented The City in meet and confers with the union, testified that there have been scheduling problems and delays with the SFPOA.

“There are times when processes have gone pretty slow,” Preston said.

The arbitration hearings are scheduled to continue next week unless The City and union reach a settlement.

San Francisco Police Officers Association chief negotiator Gregg Adam questions Police Chief Bill Scott during an arbitration hearing at the Hall of Justice on Tuesday, April 17, 2018. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

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